Dear Diary…the stuff legends are made of

Alert: Contains spoilers for the adventure “Into the Fire”

The dragon wore magic necklaces on his claws like rings. Around his neck he wore a platinum chain with some kind of amulet attached, and something invisible yet magical circled his head constantly. Ezekiel told me to catch it – and fortunately it didn’t turn me Evil when I grabbed it out of the air. Once it was in my hand, it just sat there, feeling like a slick stone of some kind…so we’ll have to see what it ends up doing. Add it to the list.

The list. I have such a list now.

While Lydia dispelled her wall of stone, and helped Mikael get Commodore Bearington out of the pit (probably grateful he didn’t have to fight, if he’s a smart bear), the rest of us climbed the dead dragon and squeezed our way into the room beyond.

The room is more of a cavern – although roughly spherical, with a patch of daylight overhead. Hard to believe this all happened in the same morning. It seems some long-dead volcano carved out this chamber – though the tunnel was obviously constructed by gnomes or somebody. A ledge runs around the circumference of the large cavern, but all things considered, it might be just as well we didn’t fight the dragon here. True, we could spread out and make multiple targets for him, but our footing would be more precarious.

Raven dropped the thirty feet down, and found a side passage covered with dragon claw-marks (and a lever that he was smart enough not to pull, but we suspect it controls the portcullis and trapdoor). Most of us climbed a rope to join him, although Lydia floated down with her staff (how many times a day can it do that?) and Sirion coasted down on his cloak (glad he’s feeling better enough to show off again). Ezekiel shoved a pile of bottles full of dragon blood into his backpack and finally joined us (he didn’t mention if he wanted the eyeballs, too).

We crept down the passage on the alert – just in case the dragon had a little friend or something – and found another cavern, a bit smaller than the first, with a towering stone that from the gouges on the floor was dragged back and forth to block the door.

Most of the room is covered with furs, clothes, and other soft stuffs for a bed (and dragons apparently aren’t very sanitary). Against the wall leans what looks like the ripped-off side of a wooden house, with symbols burning into it. Lydia cast a spell to read it, and she thinks it’s his name: “Flame.” Schakka and Tressarian told us there were no gems and no magic items in the pile.

We spent a little time picking through the pile, finding a few furs that might be worth something, while Lydia found a robe and Sirion a cloak that weren’t too badly dirtied. But the real surprise came when we stepped through the next doorway.

We should have known what was coming. It’s in all the songs, after all. As we approached the next doorway, it seemed like the whole floor was yellow, but my mind at least didn’t register what that meant.

Then we got close enough that our shields’ light threw out across the new cavern, and we all stopped. We all stopped.

The first thing I really saw, lit by a magically burning brazier, was an ornate, gilded coach – its door open to reveal a strongbox overflowing with coins and gems and even a royal scepter. Along one wall sat a sailing ship – the hull burst open as a flood of coins, fabrics, and other things trailed down to the floor. Closer to us, a chess-set with platinum pieces sat, the pieces scattered across the board. Looks like the white pieces were winning.

More to the point, we found a pile of bones and armor in familiar colors. Sure enough, we found the insignia of our missing knights, along with a logbook that confirms most of the guesses we made while following their trail (turns out a freak storm took out one of the horses). I’m not sure what to feel, after reading a knight’s journal that literally documents the moment he saw a dragon and his doom was sealed…while writing here in my journal. I guess it’s a reminder that those who come after might like an explanation.

Lydia took Heiron with her to explore the ship, while some of the rest of us went to investigate a pile of boulders against a far wall. We still didn’t want any disturbing surprises. Sirion melted the stones into mud, and beyond we could see what Ezekiel called an extinct volcanic vent…a smooth chamber that rose a couple score feet to a dark ceiling. Sirion determined some kind of nest was blocking the outlet, so we shouldn’t have any problems from it.

We came out to find Agnar on his back in the floor of gold, waving his arms and legs and laughing. Bearington doesn’t seem to like how the coins slide around every time he steps on them, but Mikael gave him a horse bone to keep him away from the knights’ remains.

When we joined the others at the ship, we saw the name on the side was “Scorpion,” and a poster in the captain’s cabin suggest the captain was called “Jelusa the Merciless.” There’s also a logbook (useful journals again) with the last entry being ten years ago.

Flipping through the logbook, we found something even more interesting. Fifteen years ago (if the dates are right) the ship captured a “young man of quality” near the Pomarchj, and sold him in the Densack Gulf – although it doesn’t name the town. When we found some child-size clothes with the colors and insignia of the Grand Duke, all the pieces seem to fit. Sir Hoshur and the others must have found this evidence, and decided they had the best chance to get the medallion out.

Sir Hoshur deserves to have this story carved on his gravestone. Or, perhaps more meaningful, to have it sung in every inn across Geoff. I don’t know how he escaped from this gold prison – and the diary doesn’t mention it at all – but even apart from bringing His Grace the news about his son, Sir Hoshur got the warning out about the dragon before “Flame” got bored and decided to visit Fort Gellsblood. Ezekiel mumbled something about getting here soon enough to save the rest of them, but we can’t undo the past.

Ezekiel has taken Raven and left with Lydia to take the clothes, insignia, and the documents back to His Grace. (We’ll also need help clearing out this hoard…after hours of sorting and listing and digging, I’m still only starting to wrap my mind around it.)

Some bolts of silk fabric from the ship make decent enough shrouds for the knights’ bones, and I asked Agnar to help me find something we can use as coffins, so they can go back with their gear…but he keeps getting distracted swimming through hills of coins and precious things.

Mikael found an aquarium filled with silver pieces, instead of water, with some golden fish “swimming” inside. Definitely will need a couple people to lift it, and I don’t think the glass is real glass. He’s pretty unimpressed at the unnaturalness of it all, but he’s doing his part to sort through stuff. Heiron asked me if I thought Lydia would like the silver and ivory writing set he found.

**

We keep finding unpleasant surprises, too. Near the burning brazier we uncovered the bones of some fire giants – the bare side-chamber works as a burial dump. Besides other humanoid bones, though, we also found a “shrine” full of holy symbols and bones. Sirion thinks Flame sorted the pieces of each cleric with his holy relics – he pointed out an elf who worshiped Aerdrie Faenya (Ezekiel would probably know more). We’re wrapping the ones we can in shrouds, for a more decent burial. The sheer number of remains tells me Flames’s been at this for a long time.

**

Went to see if the carriage would actually roll. I think it’ll take more fixing than I know how to do, but we found a crown inside the coach – just sitting in a lockbox, not even locked, with a scepter beside it. I asked Sirion if the coat of arms meant anything to him, since he’s been around so much, but he’s still thinking.

**

Master Uthien will be excited! I found something with his name on it, so it seems almost certain the dragon is the one who tipped over his tower and killed him and Sir Frederick. I mean, it’s just a decorated drinking mug, but it’s something. And we can give him the satisfaction that the dragon is dead now.

I hope Raven remembers he has most of our rations before too long. Also, we’ll probably need his help dragging the dragon out of the tunnel, so I can skin it more easily… I think this skin will need a huge castle wall for proper displaying!


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